In my ever growing quest to find vampire films that I like, I purchased the classic remastered on Blu Ray. The 1931 film, Dracula starring Bela Lugosi in the titular role lived up to the hype. It is definitely an amazing performance alongside a supporting great cast. I give Dracula the well-deserved Must See rating.
Renfield (Dwight Frye) travels to Transylvania to sell an English house to Count Dracula (Lugosi). Dracula moves to London and begins to prey on its citizens. It’s not long before he attracts the attention of Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) who believes in vampires.
I’ve not read the book Dracula by Bram Stoker. However, from the films I’ve seen based on his book I like this one the most. It is heavily because of Lugosi as Dracula. He commands the screen and definitely sets the bar for all other vampires. The lighting effect they use on his eyes, which is parodied in many films, is great. It helps direct the audience to his mystical powers without ever having to explain it.
Yet, there is plenty of lore that needs explaining and Edward Van Sloan does it expertly. I love him as Van Helsing. He is such a heroic character and primarily for his intelligence. Sloan’s performance really made the character a rival to Dracula. They have a few battle of wits rather than of the physical kind you may expect. I love those scenes and watching him thwart Dracula. He is definitely one of my favorite parts of the film.
Visiting the films from the early days has some benefits
Likely because of the time of the film, there is very little of what you may expect from a vampire film. No blood or visible violence. The camera cuts away from all of those moments. Yet, there is never any question as to what has happened. We don’t need to see him bite his victim. We don’t need to see blood flowing or splashing against the walls. It’s clear what has transpired and dialogue fills in any gaps.
I am happy that I’ve matured as a film viewer. A few years ago, watching a black and white movie from 1931 was not something I would have done. Some of my favorite films from this year are older and often in black and white. Dracula is one I am extremely glad I’ve added to my collection. I may have to watch the other Universal monster films now as well.